Rosler praises “leader” Gary Caldwell following 1-0 win at Birmingham City as play-off place is secured.
Latics boss Uwe Rosler heaped the praise on Scottish defender Gary Caldwell after the 32-year-old put in a man of the match performance on his first start of the campaign.
The former Celtic defender has missed the entirety of Latics’ 2013-14 campaign prior to tonight’s win over the Blues, with a brief appearance against Arsenal in the FA Cup with Budweiser semi-final his only taste of first-team action.
And Rosler says Caldwell’s influence on his team-mates, as well as his whole-hearted display, proved crucial to Latics securing their play-off place in the Sky Bet Championship at St. Andrew’s.
“I put Gary in and he’d not played at first team level for quite a while so to perform like that was a very good performance,” Rosler said.
“I have seen Gary over time in training and I know he can make other players around him better; I felt his organisation skills, his communications skills and the fact that he knows that role very well were a big factor for us tonight.
“Since he’s been back, not only in that time, but since day one when I’ve seen him in training, when he’s in the dressing room, if he’s involved in games on the bench or not he’s still in the dressing room talking to the boys – he’s a true man and a leader – today he performed very well.”
Callum McManaman’s third minute opener set Latics on their way to their 21st league win of the campaign before a steely show of character told on an evening that condemned Birmingham to rely on other results on the final day of the campaign to ensure their safety in the second tier.
And Rosler praised the focus and preparation in the build up to the game following back-to-back defeats for the first time under his stewardship whilst he also applauded the way in which his side defended long balls and the threat of the Blues’ giant striker Nikola Zigic in the final stages.
“Compliment to the players, I thought the focus was fantastic,” he added. “We had the right preparation having come to Birmingham yesterday and stayed in the hotel so this morning we did a lot of analysis – in the modern game analysis is very important – and we showed players clips and prepared them.
“I think in the first-half we were completely in control, we played very good football and I think defensively we were very strong.
“They brought Zigic on and you can’t deny the goalkeeper kicking long balls, so it’s always a scrap against a 6’7 striker, it’s difficult but I think we defended well when we had to.”
Rosler has now achieved his aim of securing a play-off spot after taking over at the DW Stadium in December when Latics were sat in the bottom half of the table.
And he says, though the players aren’t getting carried away, he is proud of the achievement and that the squad management has proved vital as the season has worn on.
“Overall the achievement from when I came in on December 9th has been fantastic,” Rosler continued. “The effort the players have put in is monumental to get to 73 points in such a short time.
“We’re not over excited, we’re keeping calm and we know what we want to achieve but we’ve achieved the first hurdle, though there are more hurdles to come.
“I think when you look at where we were at the beginning of December, we had so many games in such a short time and we had to use the squad, I think without utilising the squad and managing those players with long-term injuries like Gary, Shaun Maloney and Roger Espinoza, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
“Everybody has contributed; not only the players who played today, but also players who have been on the bench and not been involved – everybody contributed to jumping this first hurdle.”